George Zimmerman is now back in jail awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin, a case in the national spotlight and being prosecuted by assistant state attorneys from the Jacksonville circuit. Zimmerman had been out, released on a $150,000 bond, until prosecutors sifted through jail phones between Zimmerman and his wife when he was locked up the first time awaiting a bond hearing, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A judge found last week that Zimmerman and his wife conspired to hide money that had been raised for his criminal defense, a tactic used to try to get a reduced bond that would be easier for him to meet, the newspaper reported.
The plan backfired, once Duval County prosecutors pulled the phone calls, and asked the judge to revoke Zimmerman’s bond. The judge sided with the state and gave Zimmerman 48 hours to report to jail. He was booked into the jail Sunday. His criminal attorneys have told various media outlets the case will not be ready for trial until sometime next year. That means Zimmerman has at least six months behind bars. Police have said he will be in a separate cell and isolated from other inmates, the newspaper reported.
The takeaway here is to never, ever, say anything about your case on a jail telephone. Never. There are warnings posted by the phone, and played at the start of phone calls, that the calls are being recorded. Many people don’t think the state will actually sit down and listen to them. But they will. And, in many cases, that is where the state gets it best evidence. Maybe it’s another witness who is mentioned that police didn’t know about. Or it’s the location of stolen goods. Or even that confession that police have been unable to squeeze out of him or her. In this case, it was about the money the state was suspicious about from the very beginning. The bond revocation is no doubt a win for the state in this case. First, it adds some urgency for Zimmerman and his team. The state always would rather have a defendant in custody to help move the case along. If the defendant is out, especially is he or she has a decent idea they will be doing some time, there is really no incentive to resolve the case. Second, and far more important, is the fact that the judge made a decision against Zimmerman, based on his belief that Zimmerman was engaged in an attempt to lie to the court. That will be brought up repeatedly by the state, you can count on it. Any crack in Zimmerman’s credibility is huge because his word is the crux of his defense.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, shot Martin in February after he says Martin was beating him up after Zimmerman confronted him about acting suspicious in a Sanford neighborhood. Martin’s family has questioned who the aggressor was in the case, as have several national civil rights leaders who’ve held protests in the weeks since the shooting. The case has sparked racial tensions: Martin, 17, is black; Zimmerman, 28, was born to a white father and a Hispanic mother. The state will undoubtedly argue that if Zimmerman was found to have been lying on jail phone calls, how can a jury believe him when he talks about how Martin was killed? Without the jail phone calls, Zimmerman would still be out on bond. And he’d have a better chance of winning if the case does indeed go to trial. It’s not a deal breaker, but it certainly does not help. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer always specifically instructs every client not to talk about their case on the phone. To anyone. There’s nothing positive that will come out of it.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County criminal lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.